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The Real Cost Of Missed Calls For Car Dealers

21st October 2016

Consumer buying habits in recent years have shown a massive shift to online shopping, and research and comparison to aid their purchase decisions, increasingly done on the move from mobile phones. The motor trade in particular has had to evolve substantially to accommodate the changes in how consumers buy cars, with dealers spending an increasing amount of their time focusing on their various digital channels, whether it be their website, online advertising or social media pages, to capture enquiries.

Whilst dealers must adapt to the changing market and new technologies, such as having slick, mobile responsive car dealer websites to capture enquiries, sending prospects sales presentation videos from a mobile app, and building customer trust and reach through social media, it is vitally important they don’t neglect customers who are contacting them by phone by allowing calls to go unanswered.

Recent research by virtual PA service, Tele PA, showed that 47% of small businesses in the UK are missing incoming phone calls, a particularly worrying statistic for car dealers, with the time and effort they put in to their website and advertising primarily done to attract customers to contact them to make a sales enquiry or a service booking. Ultimately, by not picking up the phone, dealers can fall at the final hurdle and not capitalise on the work they have put in to their digital marketing to capture those enquiries and convert them to sales.

Interestingly, a survey by telephone answering service Moneypenny found that car dealers in the UK miss the most calls midweek, with lines being busiest at 3pm on a Tuesday. The highest call volumes were typically Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 11am and 3pm, suggesting that customers are making these calls to enquire about vehicles, or to book a service appointment, to fit around their own working day – but this also indicates that perhaps dealers aren’t recognising they are under resourced at these times.

What typically happens is that the person calls, and it rings and rings until they lose interest and hang up, or a voicemail service kicks in and they are given the option to leave a message. Some of the reasons of why this happens is that the dealership is under-staffed and overwhelmed, or they are adequately staffed but are focussing on other tasks, or the dealer simply chooses not to prioritise telephone based customer service.

Dealers should make sure they have enough staff resource during these peak times – this could ultimately prove to be the most cost-efficient solution too. Although changing internal processes and perhaps taking on extra staff may seem like an upheaval and added expense “just to cover phones”, protecting the amount of potential lost business should far outweigh any cost when you consider these statistics from answering service Message Direct:

  • 85% of people whose calls are not answered will not call back
  • 75% of people will not leave a voicemail message
  • 70% of people will stop dealing with a business with poor customer service and 60% will go on to do business with a rival business
  • 80% of business communications take place over the phone – even in this digital age
  • Businesses in the UK lose over £30 billion every year due to missed calls

Prospective customers calling for the first time are unlikely to phone back should their call go unanswered, as it gives a very poor impression of the business and creates all sorts of trust issues – is the dealer no longer trading, or worse, not genuine? Equally, existing customers who are not having their calls answered will likely go elsewhere if they feel they are not receiving adequate customer service.

With consumers these days encouraged to leave reviews and feedback on sites such as google and social media, if ignored callers share their experience of the dealer online, other potential customers reading those reviews may well be put off contacting the dealer as well – resulting in further lost opportunities, in addition to the ones already lost through unanswered calls.

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